Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree, but some people avoid certain social situations to the extent that it interferes with their daily lives. People with Social Anxiety Disorder live in such fear of everyday activities like speaking in public, starting conversations with strangers, or using a public restroom that panic sets in at the thought of carrying out those activities.
This distress is expressed by symptoms like trembling, blushing, crying, even nausea or diarrhea. Once these reactions begin the individual’s horror at the likelihood that they are being judged escalates even further, and a full-blown panic attack may set in, embarrassing the person even further.
A person with Social Anxiety Disorder realizes that this extreme fear is irrational, but that knowledge does not help. The terror becomes obsessive, and thoughts like “They are all looking at me,” “I am going to make a fool out of myself,” or “What if I fail?” spiral endlessly through that person’s mind.
While it may be possible to escape anxiety-producing circumstances for a while, and thus avoid the onset of symptoms, inevitably an unexpected situation will arise and then the fear reaction will be worse than ever. For this reason it is best to seek treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder rather than continue to dodge uncomfortable situations endlessly.
Treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder fall into two categories: psychotherapy and medication. Most experts recommend both. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing your pattern of thinking about stressful circumstances. The medication most often suggested is some type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs are non-addictive and very effective in the treatment of social phobia.
Please check the following resources for more information.
Resources on Social Anxiety Disorder
Mayo Clinic Social Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms
examiner.com What is social anxiety? by Gregory Pacana
WebMD Just Shy or Social Anxiety Disorder? by Gina Shaw
WebMD What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
SP/SAA Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association